Local News

Little-Known Law Lets Illegals Stay in Country for Court

Posted May 21, 2007
Updated May 22, 2007

— With immigration laws squarely in the national spotlight, the nuances of the issue are being debated in every corner of the state.

According to prosecutors, there's one place illegal immigrants are needed: on the witness stand in the courtroom. Because they fear deportation, prosecutors say they often fail to show up to testify, even when they are victims of a crime.

There is, however, a legal remedy to the problem.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby met with members of the Mexican Consulate in Raleigh about the issue recently. As it turns out, there is a solution.

Under a law passed by Congress in 2000, illegal immigrants can apply for a "U" Visa which allows them to stay in the country while a case makes its way through the court system.

“I think it will make the difference in successfully solving and prosecuting crimes that currently we're not able to do,” Willoughby said.

Attracta Kelly, with the N.C. Justice Center, said that few prosecutors and law enforcement agencies know about the "U" Visa. She wants to get the word out.

“Your job as a law enforcement person should be to help them if they help you in bringing the perpetrator to justice,” Kelly said.

Because few people know about the "U" Visa, it is used sparingly. But it’s a very simple, three-page form that can be filled out by the individual with the help of an officer or prosecutor investigating a case. The form must be renewed yearly.

“We're excited about the possibility of being able to use that tool,” Willoughby said. “They don't have to fear coming to court to testify, that it’s not going to result in their deportation.”


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • stupiditysucks May 22, 2007

    ncstarinvestigator -at- yahoo -dot- com if what you are saying is correct - then that just goes out to prove my point that the illegals are smarter than the locals. tsk tsk tsk

  • ohmygosh May 22, 2007

    Does anybody think this is going to be used much?

    Picture this.
    You're an illegal who is deathly afraid of deportation.
    You're going to sign a paper with your address to obtain a temporary permit?

    The list of these applications would make a great database for deportation.

  • Builder03 May 22, 2007

    Many of you who post, want to blame the illegals. They aren't to blame. Lawmakers are to blame, courts and judges are to blame, your government is to blame. It is an administration that is so concerned about terrorism, so concerned about fighting terrorists in Iraq, that we have an open border and we've know for years that vast numbers of people are crossing the line everyday, and they/we look the other way. It is your elected representatives who haven't passed laws to tighten the border and it is your courts and judges who haven't enforced the laws that we have. It is selected enforcement, more at the state and local level, that in turn is fighting the federal system to unburden them from the task of moving illegals out of the system. If you lived in an impoverished world that was only a river away from the land of opportunity, wouldn't you be here too? Our tax dollars pay our lawmakers, and pay them well. Shouldn't we be getting a return on our investment?

  • QT3.14 May 22, 2007

    Anyone want to take bets on how long it will be before WRAL closes this article to comments?

  • dsal68 May 22, 2007

    If an illegal was a key witness to a murder that was commited to one of your family members, what would you do? Say, no I do not want him to testify, he is an illegal.

  • ncstarinvestigator May 22, 2007

    I was advised by a financial representative, in accounts and billing, in a large medical facility in Greenville, NC that the illegals that were treated in their ER did indeed receive "FREE" care as it was wrote off as charitable care as the facility was non-profit. She also advised that this was standard practice as many did not give their real names, gave fake SSNs if they had one, and being illegal they often claimed no money to pay the bill. This representative stated that there were American citizens who were refused charitable care write-offs, daily, and couldn't afford to pay astronomical bills. She was upset but said to keep her job she couldn't voice any opinion on this matter while working or she would LOSE her job!

    Also, depending on what county you reside in, there are different rules for Medicaid Assistance, on helping immigrants, legal or otherwise. Some counties even have Battered immigrant Assistance for Medicaid-this includes spouses that are not LEGAL CITIZENS...

  • mythoughts22 May 22, 2007

    even though these illegals should not be over here they are people as well and if they are a victim of some crime they should be allowed to testify...i dont not believe that they should be allowed to stay here for a year or more if the case drags out this is where the system needs to step in and have the trial as soon as possible and then have them sent home within 24 hours i mean what are the odds of these people testifying and staying around to be deported they are going to run like the wind as soon as they testify.

  • BlarneyStone May 22, 2007

    OK, so we're letting people who are here ILLEGALY stay here so they can go to court (and spend our tax money) and have cases heard on their behalf? Brilliant. God Bless America, we need it.

  • stupiditysucks May 22, 2007

    it's amazing the ignorance and bigotry displayed on this site. What is hilarious about these tirades is that it clearly shows you know nothing about the immigration laws of this country, or even how social services operate. No wonder there are soo many illegals here. Don't you ever wonder why is it that the states that have illegal alien issues are the ones with the highest percentage of illiterates?

    LOL - free medical for illegals - that's a hoot

  • Run_Forrest_Run May 22, 2007

    Bill O'Reilly stated in one of his shows recently - that the only reason Ted Kennedy and his cohorts want to legalize the illegal hispanic population - is to pad the number of democrats in the United States. Face it, these folks are not going to be Republican. The United States is not their country (although our Govt is doing it's best to hand it over to them). If You or I do something illegal; we're prosecuted. If I go to the hospital, I have to pay the bill (or pay dearly for the insurance). If we don't pay taxes, we're prosecuted. You can walk across a border and instantly be treated better than me. Our politicians are not 'For the People, By the People' anymore.